It doesn’t matter what it is: whatever you’re eating, your pup thinks he needs it, too! But if you have potatoes on your plate, think twice before giving him a bite.

By Tracey L. Kelley
November 20, 2020
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His woeful eyes stare up at you, hoping for a dropped morsel of whatever you’re noshing on. Some fruits and vegetables are safe for dogs, as they’re omnivores and eat both meat and plants. But can dogs eat potatoes? Sometimes potatoes are OK for pups—but only under certain conditions. Here’s what you should know.

Spuds for Your Canine Buds: A Breakdown

Richard Hill, VetMB, PhD, is board certified in small animal internal medicine and veterinary nutrition and an associate professor at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine in Gainesville, Fla. He notes that potatoes contain calories and are not “complete and balanced”, so they have the potential to disrupt a balanced doggy diet. 

“Dogs need to eat a complete and balanced diet, i.e., the diet contains all the essential nutrients the animal requires in the right proportions and amount of calories to maintain a lean body condition,” Hill says. Only 10 percent of a dog’s diet should contain unbalanced treats.

Additionally, a 2018 report from the UC Davis School of Medicine shared by the AKC also points to a relationship between a condition known as canine dilated cardiomyopathy (CDM) and certain plant foods. This often severe condition affects both the size of the heart and its pumping function. While mostly contracted genetically, studies indicate a possible CDM association to diets containing higher amounts of lentils, peas, other legumes, and potatoes. 

Before treating your dog to a few occasional bites of potato, it’s a good idea to first talk with your veterinarian as to how it fits into an overall nutrition plan.

Credit: Michael Reinhard / Andrea Polo / EyeEm / Getty / Emma Darvick

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Potatoes?

Preparing cooked potatoes plain, without spices or butter, is the best option. Pups lap them up boiled or mashed. Dogs can eat baked potatoes, also known as jacket potatoes, as well. White-flesh tubers with brown, red, or purple skins are all fine—they’re not picky!

But if you’re a fan of garlic mashed potatoes, keep your canine friend away from them. Garlic, onions, scallions, chives, and leeks contain thiosulfate, a chemical toxic to dogs.

Can Dogs Eat Raw Potatoes?

No. Raw potatoes have a compound called solanine, and it’s toxic to many dogs. Hill says the green bits or green potatoes are harmful, too. So if your dog accidentally eats potato peels because he rooted through the trash while you were at work, call your veterinarian right away. A small amount might only make him vomit or temporarily have diarrhea, but it’s best to get a check-up.

Are Sweet Potatoes Safe for Dogs?

If your dog is at a healthy weight, doesn’t have diabetes, and his vet says it’s OK, small bits of cooked sweet potato can be a tasty snack now and then. But peel them first, as some pooches might get an upset stomach from the skins.

What About Potato Chips?

Almost any dog breed will Hoover their noses through the couch cushions if they suspect there are crunchies hidden within them. But while almost any pup will eat potato chips and other crumbs they find, they really shouldn’t—they contain too much sodium and fat. This also applies to french fries and other fried potatoes, as well as dishes such as potato salad. It's best to just keep these foodstuffs away from your pets, not matter how much they beg!

Safe Human Foods for Dogs

In addition to an occasional cooked potato, you can reward your good boy with healthy snacks such as carrots, watermelon, zucchini and other squashes, apple slices, peeled bananas, green beans, and popcorn without butter or salt.